DENVER (CBS4) – A business in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood aims to reduce waste in the Denver metro area by collecting items that aren’t typically accepted by municipal recycling programs. Ridwell, a Seattle-based recycling company, expanded to Denver and surrounding communities in 2021.
It offers a subscription-based monthly service to pick up hard-to-recycle items from people’s doorsteps every two weeks.
While it was garbage day in some neighborhoods on Wednesday, Rebecca Hayes and her colleagues were taking a different kind of road. In each neighborhood, they kept an eye out for Ridwell-branded white boxes outside people’s homes, where customers leave bags full of things like plastic, batteries and burnt-out light bulbs.
“There are clothes, plastic bags, light bulbs and batteries, and then every van has a featured category,” said Hayes, chief operating officer of Ridwell in Denver.
Since last year, Ridwell employees have collected these products which usually end up in a landfill. Once sorted, they will take some things to a place where they can be recycled, and the rest will be sent to businesses and nonprofits across the state for reuse.
“Each category has a distinct partner who really is the best and most efficient way to do it, and the best way to get the most recycled or reused,” Hayes said.
According to Hayes, the bags, bubble wrap and food wrap are sent to a company that uses the plastic to make deck panels. Clothing is often sent to ARC Thrift stores or other non-profit organizations that recycle it in some other way.
For the company, the mission is to enable people to waste less, especially since many municipal recycling programs are limited in what they can absorb.
“We’re definitely closing the gaps between the one-stream program and what people have in their homes and what’s currently going to landfill, is the only option, for things like plastic bags and things like that,” said said Hayes.
For Pamela Walshe, paying for the pick-up service is better off going to several recycling facilities in the city, which she used to do.
“It just made me feel like I knew with confidence that I was taking things to the right place,” Walshe said.
Since last year, she has seen the benefits as a client and as a beneficiary.
Recently, Ridwell collected non-perishable food items and donated them to the food bank that Walshe helps run.
“Being able to redistribute stuff to my own nonprofit community is just an amazing experience,” she said. “I like being part of the whole cycle.”
Four of the five categories remain the same each week, but the fifth is a rotating category. Currently, Ridwell collects electronics, but in the past the company has collected CDs, sports equipment and non-perishable food.